Devastated by the opening-round playoff flop against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Washington Capitals general manager David Poile took the first major step yesterday toward what he hopes will correct the situation, trading popular right wing Dino Ciccarelli to the Detroit Red Wings for right wing Kevin Miller.
"We're going in another direction," Poile said from the Montreal Forum moments after unloading Ciccarelli, 32, as the second round of the 25th annual NHL entry draft began. "It's time to give some of our young forwards like Bondra [Peter], Pivonka [Michal], and Khristich [Dimitri] more of a chance to play. Also we gained some years in the trade."
Miller, 26, is the younger brother of Capitals left wing Kelly Miller, 29. Kevin scored 20 goals and had 26 assists while playing all 80 games for Detroit in the 1991-92 season.
When asked if it were hard to trade a player of Ciccarelli's magnitude, Poile said without emotion: "Dino is 32 years old and Miller is a good young player. This is the direction we want to go in."
Capitals fans have made a habit of chanting affectionately "Dino, Dino" since he was acquired from the Minnesota North Stars on March 7, 1989.
A surprised and hurt Ciccarelli said last night that he couldn't buy the youth movement idea.
"It was a financial decision," said Ciccarelli. "They didn't want to pay me. My contract of $440,000 on my option year was up and I was due for a substantial raise. They didn't even try to negotiate with me. I gave my heart to the organization for three years. Look at my face and my scars and that proves it. I gave my all. If the rest of the players had done the same, we might have won the playoffs."
Ciccarelli said the Capitals have told him the last three years that "I'm the top guy" and he said the fans voted him the most popular player this past season.
"This doesn't figure if you look at my stats, but then I guess I shouldn't be shocked since the Capitals traded Mike Gartner and Geoff Courtnall when they wanted more money," said Ciccarelli. "And they didn't sign Scotty [Stevens], and Donnie [Beaupre] had to sit out to get more money."
Ciccarelli scored a team-high 38 goals and added 38 assists in 78 games last season. But there were times that Ciccarelli
disappeared from the offense during the regular season and playoff fade against Pittsburgh after the Capitals took a 3-1 lead in games.
Said Poile: "We also thought that with our scoring so balanced, this deal would give our younger scorers more ice time. The obvious age difference made the decision easier."
Poile has put together two brother combinations in the past six days for Washington, first acquiring Dale Hunter's brother, right wing Mark Hunter, from the Whalers in a trade Monday that sent left wing Nick Kypreos to Hartford.
Poile also yesterday drafted the brother of another professional athlete -- goaltender Jim Carey in the second round. Carey, from Catholic Memorial (Mass.) High School, is the brother of outfielder Paul Carey, an Orioles minor-leaguer for the past two seasons.
Jim Carey was the 32nd player and first goaltender taken in the entry draft.
Poile used the Toronto Maple Leafs' second-round choice to select Carey shortly after trading Washington's 23rd pick in the first round yesterday to the Maple Leafs for their second and third-round selections this year and fourth-round pick in 1993.
Poile said he gave up the 23rd choice in the first round because he felt the Capitals could still get the player they wanted in the second round with the Maple Leafs' selection.
"Jim Carey was the player we wanted," said Poile, who already had selected 14th in the first round, thanks to one of the five first-round draft choices Washington received as compensation from the St. Louis Blues, who signed Stevens as a free agent July 16, 1990.
Poile chose rugged defenseman Sergei Goncher from Moscow Dynamo with the 14th pick in the first round. Goncher was a member of the Russian National Junior Team and is considered a fanatic in his dedication to defensive play.
Goncher, 5 feet 11, 178 pounds, was one of 11 European players taken in the first round.
"This is a really big event in my life," Goncher said through an interpreter. "It's great to be part of history, being chosen the first time in history that Russian players attended the draft. I was no nervous. I was surprised to go in the first round. It was not so much surprise that Washington took me, but just hearing my name called out."
Said Poile: "This is the year of the European player. Sergei has good speed, good hands and we feel he's a player of the '90s."